Written by Terra LaRock; wife, mother of two and Founder/CEO of Mindful Mamas.
Mom rage= the polite word for the “Hulk-like” anger that mothers feel when they are overstimulated, overwhelmed, and undersupported.
It’s unfortunately very common and it really sucks.
As a licensed psychologist (who also experiences mom rage from time to time), I’m here to break down why mom rage occurs and to provide you with practical and supportive tools to work with.
But before I begin, I want you to know this:
Let me say it one more time, you are NOT alone.
Okay, let’s dive in.
What is mom rage?
Mom rage can occur when too many factors are ramping up all at once. This “too-muchness” sends your nervous system and body into a stress response.
Common mom rage triggers:
Every person has their own triggers, but common mom rage triggers include:
- Not being able to finish tasks
- Kids won’t sleep
- Feeling touched out
- Not being listened to
- Acting out/defiance
- Clutter/messy house
- Perceived lack of control
- Loud, constant, or competing noises
- Changes in plans
- Response to past or present trauma
- Lack of sleep
What mom rage feels like:
The experience of mom rage can be quite intense. I’ve heard it described as feeling as if your whole body was an exposed nerve, like you want to crawl out of your skin, or feeling like you just might very well implode or explode.
It can also often present as:
- Heart palpitations
- Sweaty palms
- Tight/clenched jaw or fists
- Shaking, trembling, or vibrating
Anger and rage are telltale signs that there is a deeper unmet need and emotion(s) underlying the anger and rage.
You see, anger is categorized as a secondary emotion, meaning it is a protective emotion that is holding you back from feeling what might be hiding underneath. Feelings like sadness, fear, loneliness, and sometimes grief or inadequacy.
A great metaphor to understand mom rage is to think of an iceberg. At the surface, you may see behaviors and emotions of anger and rage, but in reality, there is so much more going on beneath the surface.
So what can you do about it?
Ways to cope with mom rage:
I wish I had a silver bullet. I truly do. But because mom rage is so complex and factors such as hormones, genetic makeup, societal expectations, and past experiences are so vast, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
Below are a few tips and tricks you can use to cope and work with mom rage:
- Have grace and compassion when it occurs. For both the people around you and for yourself.
- Follow the “with rupture follows repair” philosophy.
- When you have calmed down, repair the relationship with those around you, and don’t forget to forgive yourself too.
- Name it.
- As it’s about to happen or is happening, say something like “MOM RAGE” or incorporate a little humor and make up a family code word to unite the entire family.
- Use noise-canceling headphones to reduce loud, constant, or competing sounds.
- Meet your self-care needs daily. Mom rage occurs because your emotional or physical gas tank is low.
- Make a chart of self-care practices that you can do when you have 1 minute, 5 minutes, 1 hour, etc., and DO these things. Every sip of self-care counts.
- Rest and rest some more.
- Pick your battles, while still setting expectations and boundaries. For example, “Yes, you can bring that toy into the sandbox, but you must wash it off with the hose before it comes back into the house.”
- Reach out for help.
Reach out for help. You can’t do it alone, nor should you. It’s okay to ask for help from others when you need a break.
Asking for help with mom rage:
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the frequency or intensity of how you are experiencing mom rage, consider reaching out for professional help. There are therapists that specialize in the postpartum experience that can help you gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on and teach you coping skills to work through these challenging experiences. To connect to one, visit Postpartum Support International. They also have a free chat line and are available 24/7 in both English and Spanish.
While I admit that mom rage is not a fun emotion to deal with, I also want to remind you that it is so normal. In fact, it was an episode of my own mom rage that drove me to create the Mindful Mamas App, an app for mothers to better navigate the emotional landscape that comes with motherhood and life.
Your mental health matters, and no matter what you’re feeling, you’re not alone. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you.
Download the Mindful Mamas App and explore the Anger section found in guided > emotions > anger. Notice how much of a difference even a tiny sip of self-care can make.
Terra LaRock is a wife and mother of two, residing in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She is a licensed psychologist, maternal mental health advocate, as well as the Founder/CEO of Mindful Mamas, a maternal wellness platform that teaches new moms and moms-to-be the beautiful art of self-care and mindfulness.